Knoxville, Tenn. (Oct. 4, 2023) – The Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) has released a report addressing concerns related to utility-scale solar facilities and the residential solar market, sparking active engagement from principal stakeholders across the state. Specifically, the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) and Tennessee Solar Energy Industries Association (TenneSEIA) continue to champion the economic benefits of solar energy in the region following the release of the report.
The TACIR report was initiated by the state due to community concerns about the expansion of large-scale solar facilities and potential consumer protection issues in the home solar market. It underscores the necessity for clearer guidelines and resources for local governments, developers, and the public. It also highlights how Tennessee is embracing solar energy, with ambitious plans to significantly increase solar generation capacity in the coming years.
For example, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) plans to add 10,000 MW of solar generation by 2035 in its territory, including 5,000 MW of carbon-free energy before 2029. Nashville Electric Service (NES) is looking at opportunities for utility-scale solar outside Davidson County through TVA, while Knoxville Utility Board (KUB) has a 20 percent renewable goal because their customers want more renewables, according to the report. Middle Tennessee Electric (MTE) is another example of a local power company that has developed several programs to assist its customers deploy solar energy
“Both large and small businesses are now viewing solar and clean energy as a requirement when looking to locate or expand in Tennessee,” says Cortney Piper, Executive Director of TAEBC. “To capture all the economic opportunity the advanced energy sector has to offer, we must work towards making solar more accessible and educating public policy makers about its economic and community development benefits.”
Partnerships, community buy-in, and suitable solar project placements are key to maximizing solar energy’s economic impact, according to Piper, something that the TACIR findings further reinforced.
TenneSEIA Executive Director Gil Hough emphasized the importance of education and community support, noting that many tools already exist to balance private property rights and community interests for utility-scale solar projects.
“As solar energy continues to gain traction, we see that there’s an evident need for more consolidated, accessible information and guidance for communities as it relates to solar projects,” said Hough. “Solar Energy is still new to our region and there is a growing need to do more education, which causes potential unawareness or inaccessibility to existing resources.
Education is key, and I believe this report affirms that many of the criticisms regarding solar energy have already been addressed. We just need to continue to get that word out.”
The insights and recommendations from the TACIR report pave the way toward a future where solar energy is not only accessible but is also a pivotal player in Tennessee’s economic development. To learn more about how local public officials can take an economic and community development approach to solar projects in Tennessee, watch this June webinar or read the press release here.
About Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council
The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) champions advanced energy as an economic development and job creation strategy. Advanced energy is technology neutral and includes electricity and transportation. Anything that makes energy cleaner, safer, more secure or more efficient is in the tent. No other entity in the state concentrates specifically on this robust sector. We educate public officials and business leaders about Tennessee’s advanced energy economy, establish strategic partnerships to connect assets with opportunities and inform policy that expands and strengthens the industry. TAEBC hosts the Energizing Tennessee podcast, which explores the latest news and insights about the advanced energy sector. For more information, visit tnadvancedenergy.com.